How I Trained a Golden Doodle to Stop Fence Fighting

A Case Study on Positive Reinforcement and Behavior Modification Techniques for Dog Training

Did you know that fence fighting is one of the most common and frustrating behavioral problems that dog owners face? According to a survey by the American Pet Products Association, 44% of dog owners reported that their dogs barked excessively at other dogs or people through fences or windows. Not only is this behavior annoying and noisy, but it can also lead to aggression, anxiety, and injury for both dogs and owners.

But what if I told you that there is a simple and effective way to stop fence fighting without using any harsh or negative methods? In this case study, I will show you how I helped a golden doodle named Rex overcome his fence fighting habit with positive reinforcement techniques. You will learn how I taught him two easy commands that changed his behavior and attitude towards his neighbor’s dog, Scooter. You will also see how I collaborated with Scooter’s owner to create a cooperative and consistent training program that benefited both dogs and owners.

By the end of this case study, you will have a better understanding of what causes fence fighting, how to prevent it, and how hiring me as a professional dog trainer can make it much easier for you to solve it. You will also discover how you can enjoy a more peaceful and harmonious relationship with your dog and your neighbors. So let’s get started!


Rex is a lovable, energetic golden doodle who loves to explore and play. But he also had a bad habit of fence fighting with the neighbor’s dog, Scooter. Every time they saw each other through the fence, they would bark and lunge at each other, creating a lot of noise and stress for both owners.

Michelle, Rex’s owner, was desperate to find a solution. She contacted Cyndi, a certified professional dog trainer who specialized in positive reinforcement techniques. Cyndi taught Michelle how to teach Rex two simple commands: “Rex” meant “look at me” and “Inside” meant “go in the back door and get a treat”. She also reached out to Sue, Scooter’s owner, and convinced her to join the training program.

After several months of consistent practice and cooperation, Rex and Scooter learned to stop barking and come inside when they heard their names. The fence fighting was reduced to a minimum, and both dogs and owners were happier and more relaxed.



Fence Fighting

Fence fighting is a common problem among dog owners who live in close proximity to other dogs. It can cause stress, anxiety, aggression, and even injuries for both dogs and humans.
Fence fighting is a complex behavior that can have multiple causes and triggers.
To stop fence fighting, it is important to identify the root cause of the behavior and address it accordingly. It is also important to use positive reinforcement methods that reward desirable behaviors and discourage undesirable ones. Punishing or scolding dogs for fence fighting can make them more fearful or aggressive, or damage the relationship between the owner and the dog.
Some of the possible reasons why dogs fence fight are:
  • Territoriality: Dogs may feel threatened by other dogs invading their space or territory.
  • Frustration: Dogs may feel frustrated by the barrier that prevents them from interacting with other dogs.
  • Boredom: Dogs may lack mental and physical stimulation and use fence fighting as a way to release their energy and excitement.
  • Reinforcement: Dogs may find fence fighting rewarding or fun, especially if they get attention or reactions from other dogs or humans.

The Challenge

Cyndi’s client Michelle loved her golden doodle, Rex, but she had a big problem. Rex loved to fence fight with his neighbor’s dog, Scooter. Every time they saw each other through the fence, they would bark and lunge at each other, creating a lot of noise and stress for both owners.

Michelle was desperate to find a solution. She was worried that Rex would injure himself or damage the fence. She was also concerned about annoying her neighbors or getting into trouble with the authorities. She had tried yelling at Rex, using treats to lure him inside, or distracting him with toys, but nothing worked. He would always go back to barking and fighting as soon as he saw Scooter.

She wanted to stop fence fighting and help Rex become more relaxed and happy. But she also needed to work with her neighbor, Sue, who owned Scooter. Sue was not very cooperative or friendly at first. She didn’t think that fence fighting was a big deal, and she didn’t want to change anything about her dog’s routine or behavior. She also didn’t trust Cyndi’s methods or expertise.

Michelle and Cyndi had to convince Sue to join the training program and cooperate with them. They had to show her the benefits of positive reinforcement techniques and how they could improve both dogs’ well-being and happiness.


The Solution

Cyndi, a certified professional dog trainer, used positive reinforcement to help Rex stop fence fighting with Scooter, the neighbor’s dog. She signed Rex up for her 3-week “Restart” Day Training program, where she taught him basic skills and provided him with mental stimulation. She then taught him two simple commands: “Rex” meant “look at me” and “Inside” meant “go in the back door and get a treat”. She used treats as rewards to motivate and reinforce Rex’s behavior.

She also reached out to Sue, Scooter’s owner, and convinced her to join the training program. She taught Sue how to call Scooter inside when he barked at Rex, and how to reward him with treats as well. She explained that using treats was not bribery or rewarding the barking, but rather rewarding the correct behavior of stopping barking and coming inside. She also showed Sue how positive reinforcement could make Scooter happier and more obedient.

She coached Michelle, Rex’s owner, to practice and reward Rex’s good behavior consistently. She also gave her tips on how to prevent and manage fence fighting in the future. After several months of consistency and cooperation, both dogs learned to stop barking and come inside when they heard their names. The fence fighting was reduced to a minimum, and both dogs and owners were happier and more relaxed.

Barking is natural and normal behavior for dogs, but it can also be annoying and disruptive for us and our neighbors. The key to reducing barking is to teach your dog when it is appropriate and when it is not, and to provide him with outlets for his physical and mental energy.
Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Certified Behavior Consultant and Professional Dog Trainer, Peaceable Paws LLC

Positive Reinforcement Behavior Modification:

The Key to Solving Rex’s Fence Fighting Issue

I started by conducting an initial assessment of Rex’s behavior and environment. I observed him in his yard and noted his triggers, reactions, and body language. I also interviewed my client about his lifestyle, schedule, goals, and expectations. Based on my findings, I designed a customized training plan for Rex that included:


I recommended that my client limit Rex’s time outside without supervision and bring him back in as soon as he barked. This would help Rex stop fence fighting by reducing his exposure to his trigger and breaking his habit.


My “Restart” Day Training Program was the first step to teach Rex basic manners and his owner the basics of positive reinforcement training with treats. Next, I used the same approach along with behavior modification to address Rex’s fence fighting problem. Finally, I coached the owner on how to maintain Rex’s new skills and behavior with consistency. The main skills we worked on for solving Rex’s fence fighting were:
  • Attention: I taught Rex to look at my client when she called his name “Rex”. This would help him focus on his owner instead of other distractions.
  • Recall: I taught Rex to come when called by my client. This would help him disengage from fence fighting and return to his owner’s side. However, I didn’t use the traditional “Come” cue. Instead, I taught him a new cue “Inside” which is specifically used to call Rex to go inside the house.


I also met with my client’s neighbor to see how we could work together to stop the fence fighting.
I explained to my client and her neighbor the importance of being consistent, patient, and positive with Rex and Scooter, and to avoid yelling, hitting, or spraying them with water.


I recommended my client to increase Rex’s mental stimulation by giving him enrichment activities like eating out of puzzles and snuffle mat; taking him for sniff walks (sniffari’s); playing catch/fetch or tug-of-war with him. This would help reduce his boredom and frustration.


I explained to my client’s neighbor Sue, that rewarding Scooter with treats when he came inside was not incentivizing his bad behavior, but teaching him a new behavior. I told her that positive reinforcement works by increasing the frequency of a desired behavior by adding something pleasant or rewarding after it occurs. I told her that by calling him inside and giving him a treat, I was showing him that coming inside was more fun and rewarding than barking at Rex. I assured her that this method would work better than any other method in the long run, and make Scooter happier and more confident.
  • Reduced Barking 80% 80%
  • Attention 100% 100%
  • Come When Called 80% 80%
  • Happy & Calm 100% 100%

The Results Were Amazing

After three weeks of training and 4 months of consistency, Rex showed significant improvement in his behavior. He stopped fence fighting with Scooter and became more well-behaved and responsive to his owner. He also seemed happier and more relaxed in his yard.
My client was very pleased and satisfied with the outcome of the training. She saw her confidence and consistency with Rex pay off in her results. They had always had a good relationship, but now they had a closer bond and he respected her wishes. She also said that she had a good relationship with her neighbor and that they worked together so that neither dog was allowed to continue barking at the fence. She thanked me for my help and said she would highly recommend me to anyone needing dog training services.
Fence fighting is a common and challenging problem that can affect the well-being of dogs and their owners. However, it can be solved with the right approach and guidance.
If you have a dog who fence fights or has other behavioral issues, don’t hesitate to contact me for a free consultation. I can help you understand your dog’s needs and motivations, and provide you with effective solutions that will make your dog happier and healthier.

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